Saturday, September 29, 2007

Day 31,32, and 33: Carthage, Nauvoo, and Belleville, IL.

Greetings from Frank and Kathy Rudoolph's home in Belleville, IL.

I have been without internet access for the past two days (no such thing in the Old Nauvoo Motel) so I am going to catch us up tonight in one fell swoop... besides, it is late and I am really tired (and church comes early in these parts!)

Thursday we left Brandyn, Jen, and the boys and drove along the Mississippi River to Carthage, IL. It was an incredibly beautiful drive; all on back country roads.

In Carthage, we visited the Carthage Jail, the site of the martyrdom of Brothers Joseph and Hyrum by a murderous mob on June 24, 1844. We have been here before, but it still had a profound effect on both of us.

Then we drove to Nauvoo, IL to see the temple. When we were here in 1999, the temple had not even been announced. What a magnificent site to come around the corner and see this sacred edifice standing there once again after having been destroyed around 1850 by an arsonist and then finished off by a tornado.

I started to take photos as the evening sun was setting...

and continued to take them well after sunset.

The setting is beautiful.

This statue depicts the last ride that Joseph and Hyrum took together as they stopped in front of the temple for the last time before riding to Carthage "like lambs to the slaughter".

On Friday, we spent the entire day visiting the historical sites and the reenactments of the Old Nauvoo scenes.

We began with horse-drawn wagon tour through the streets of Nauvoo and then took a horse-drawn carriage ride through the surrounding woodlands up to Inspiration Point overlooking the Missisippi River.

Two of my favorite places were the Blacksmith/Wainright Shop and the Home of Jonathon Browning, the inventer of the Browning Rifles who has done more for the security of the United States than any other person who has ever lived here.

Last evening we saw a show put on by the senior missionary couples in the Old Cultural Hall called "Rendezvous Old Nauvoo". It was a great show full of laughter, tears, singing, and dancing.

Just prior to the show, Debra walked the "Trail of Hope" while I caught Joseph and Brigham watching the sunset over the Mississippi...

This morning we were able to attend an Endowment Service in the Temple. This was one of the most favorite services I have ever experienced.

This is a very beautiful temple and the spirit is strong within.

As we left Nauvoo, we turned and saw the temple on the hill and experienced, a fraction of the feelings that the Saints must have felt as they left their "Nauvoo the Beautiful" willingly for the last time (under the extermination order issued by Governor Ford), and started their treks west to the Great Salt Lake Valley.

This afternoon, we drove through Iowa,


and back into Illinois before arriving here in Belleville for a visit with Deb's brother ans sister-in-law.

We went to their grandson Trevor's baseball game and I took these cute photos of their granddaughter Josie with grandpa Frank.

Kathy and Deb went to a Community Theatre production and Frank and I looked at photos of our trip and talked about family history.

Tomorrow we will go to a Ward here in Belleville and then we will visit with the family.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Day 30: Anchor, Sibley, and back to Mapleton...

Still in Mapleton... Long story...
Today I failed to plan my route ahead of time and made a tactical error that put some pressure on and eventually brought us back to Mapleton for one more night...

We took our time getting packed and started this morning (actually, we were not ready to pull out until about 1:00 p.m.). My intentions were to go to Sibley, IL and then on to Nauvoo.

However, when I plugged the route into "Strips and Treats", I noticed that Sibley was exactly east and Nauvoo was exactly west and the route would have had us double back right passed Mapleton...

So... I made a command decision to throw Deb in the car and beat feet to Ford County Court House in Paxton, where she closed at 4:30.

We arrived at 3:40, grabbed the laptop and ran into the Records Dept. to search marriage records. We found three records before we had to leave.

On the way out, we notice a large memorial on the wall of the Court House (inside the lobby) that honored the members of Ford County that served in WWI. We found a few of Deb's relatives listed. This was curious to her... Rudolphs in Ford County???
After we left, she asked me to look for a Mt. Hope Cemetery in the GPS. It was nowhere to be found.

However, there was a St. Johns Lutheran Church just 5 miles outside of Sibley (where Deb's relatives lived and died) so we drove to it.

It was out in the middle of nowhere in Anchor, IL.

She located some graves that we think are related to her family in Sibley... but she did not find the Lohmeiers that she was hoping to find...

As we were leaving, a lady left the church and Debra asked her if she knew where Mt. Hope Cemetery was. She told us to go five miles down the road and turn right on Rt. 165 (a country road cut through tall corn on both sides of the road) and look for a small hill... (shouldn't be to hard in this country that is as flat as a table).

After the hill, you should see a cemetery on the left side of the road...

Sure enough, there was a slight rise in the road and on the left was Mt. Hope Cemetery.

A quick drive through got Deb very excited... she was spotting family names all over... I thought she was going to jump out of the window.

Right off the bat, she found the Rudolph Family plot... This is where the mystery began to unravel... She did not know the Rudolphs were there... or had never really made the connection because her grandfather and father were in Woolstock, IA. But all of her grandfather's family was and still is here! (Including the ones listed on the court house memorial). This was a very exciting find for her!

The sun was going down fast so we systematically ran through the cemetery while I took photos like a madman (I am glad the cemetery was small).

As the sun went down, I turned around and noticed the most perfect sunset scene I have ever seen...

The sun was going down perfectly behind the only farm house for miles!

I took photos until I knew I had to stop or we would run out of enough light to search the rest of the cemetery (and I had no flashlight).

As I turned around the other direction, I was met by a huge harvest moon!

Deb kept searching while I snapped some more photos of the moonrise.

Eventually, the sun went down and it got dark.

While Deb continued to research the laptop, I took advantage of the perfect photo opportunity... Sunset on one side and full moonrise exactly 180 degrees in the other direction!

The sunset and the farmhouse silhouette was reflecting off of this headstone with the moon in the background!

Debra researched in the Mini while I took some shots of the cemetery with the sunset on the in the west and the headstones being lit by the full moon from the east (throwing very distinct shadows from the moon low on the horizon).

This was the most fun I ever had in a cemetery.

Afterwards, we returned to Brandyn and Jen's for the night.

I think our plan to is to leave earlier in the morning and head for Nauvoo... but you never know what will happen????

Day 29: Shampoo and a good "waxing"!

On a serious note, we were sorry to hear that Grace Brown passed away... I know she was ready and wanted to go, but we will miss her. I have known her since I was a small boy and she was always so kind to me.

I am also sorry to hear that Loella Checketts has passed also. I know this is going to be really difficult for her husband... he was so dedicated to her. She was the librarian when Deb and I were in High School... that was a long while ago so she had a long life.

On a lighter note, we spent our last full day in Mapleton helping Jen and Brandyn with the house. I shampooed carpets while Deb and Jen hung pictures and arranged stuff.

The carpets turned out nice and everything looked real nice. Brandyn was very surprised and very pleased when he finally saw it after the softball game last night.

Brandyn and Jen had a double-header softball game last night. They got "waxed" in both of them... I think the mercy rule was applied in both games.

Brandyn tagged one... and made it home but his run did not count becuase he stepped on home plate, which is against the rules in this game...

Jen tagged one for a base hit but was retired on base...

The missionaries stopped by to bless the game... just kidding... but it would have helped.

Hyrum practiced his umpire "dusting" skills after the game...

Speaking of Hyrum, he would not go to bed... he kept sneaking out...


Today, Deb and I are going to move on down the road. We are going to Sibley and Woolington to visit the Court House so Deb can research some more family history.

Then we are going to Nauvoo for a day or so then on to Belville, IL to visit with Frank and Kathy. I am not sure what we will have for internet access until then so there may be some blogging to catch up on.

Love you guys. Later.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Day 28: Kindergarten, Off-beat Attractions, and more Bunch Ball

This morning Grandpa and Grandma got to go to Illini Elementar School to have lunch with Ammon. (I was not allowed to take photos due to security rules at the school unless it was just Ammon... this made it impossible to get any of our time in the lunchroom).

After lunch, we had a break before we needed to go back to the school to meet is teacher and see his classroom.


We decided to take a look at the GPS and see what would come up if we searched for off-beat attractions. This is what we found around Mapleton and Peoria...

A giant ice cream cone with eyes in Pekin, IL... You don't see that every day...

A miniature St Louis Archway in East Peoria, IL..

A very nice painting on the side of a barn (located at the park where Kaleb plays soccer)...

And the center of the World's largest Solar System Model at the Science Museum in Peoria, IL...

This Sun is thirty-six feet in diameter and the remainder of the scale model is located at various museum sites across IL. A .9 inch Pluto is located over 40 miles away and the next farthest minor planet is located 62 miles away (I can't remember its name). Needless to say, we did not see the entire model... in fact we only saw this sun.

There is a similar model located at University of Colorado at Boulder, which we saw when Brandyn and Jayson went to the World Finals of the Odyssey of the Mind competition in 1989. In that model, the sun was only six inches in diameter and Pluto was 2.5 miles away... The really impressive thing about that model scale was that to reach Alpha Centaurie (the closest star to our sun) you would have had to walk clear to the Panama Canal (2500 miles away).

After visiting these IL "wonders", we went back to the grade school and met Ammon's teacher...

and saw his locker...

and saw his newly learned skill of back-flipping from the jungle gym (of course, we know this feat as the "Double-Double-Flipper-Flipper" made famous by Hannah Giles!

After some KFC for dinner, Kaleb had another Bunch Ball game... they won handily... I think it was 7 to zip by the time the game was over.

Kaleb is a very good little player and looks pretty cool here!

Before bed, Debra whooped up on us at a game of "Five Crowns"... revenge for my victory the night before... Brando is thinking he can pull it off tomorrow night...

We miss all of you. Scotty.

Day 27: Primary Program and Missionaries...

Today Kaleb and Ammon both had parts in the Primary Program at church.

There are soooooo many kids in Brandyn and Jen's ward... The meeting went almost 30 minutes longer than normal in order to allow every child time to say their part!

Kaleb and Ammon did a great job... Kaleb sang really loud.

After church we had a nice afternoon at home.

After dinner, some friends of Brandyn and Jen came over for some dessert. The missionaries were also here for a visit.

I spent the time talking cameras and photography to their friend, Gretchen. She is very interested in getting a Nikon D200 camera like mine so it was great for her to be able to handle one and take it for a test drive.

It was a nice relaxing evening.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Day 26: Bunch Ball in Munchkin Land... Then Lions and Tigers and Bears... Oh my!

Saturday morning we watched Kaleb play soccer.

He is pretty good considering he is only 4-years old and the other players are mostly 5 and 6-year-olds.

The most agressive player on the team is a girl named Katy... go figure... brought back some good memories...

The park had a Wizard of Oz Theme which fit nicely into the rest of the day...

After the game, Kaleb and Hyrum dressed up for grandma...

In the afternoon, we visited Wildlife Praire State Park...

We began with a train ride through the park.

It was actually two rides, each consisting of a one-mile loop through different areas of the park.

The clickety-clack of the tracks put Kaleb to sleep by the time we got back to the station.

Brandyn was happy to see that the engine that powered the rebuilt engine, that the park obtained from the St Louis Zoo, was a genuine Cat.

After the ride, we spent about 3 hours walking the trails of the park. Along the way, we saw many different animals.

My favorite was this big bull Elk and his harem of cows...

It made for pretty cool photos when the herd of Bison ran behind them.

Looks like Madison and Hamilton at 20 paces...

The boys had a great time in the old pioneer homestead petting farm...